The ABC (Alberta Building Code) changes are in. On November 1, 2015 Alberta adopted the 2011 National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB). The transition period for that ends May 1, 2016. This is reflected in the 2014 ABC Part 9 Buildings, 9.36 Energy Efficiency. That part of the ABC comes into effect on May 1 and the transition period ending on November 1.
If that is confusing. That's because it is.
Here is the short and skinny of this situation. The ABC has been changed to reflect the idea of "overall thermal tansmittance of assemblies rather than individual components." If that sounds confusing. That's because it is.
Essentially what is changing is to have entire envelops looked at instead of individual components. This means that balancing between elements can be done. Let's take a look at an example that you can easily communicate to your board members.
Let's say you need to replace the windows on your 50s era inner city complex. Up until this year you would need to replace those windows with a minimum standard R value window. This is good practice. You are ensured that each piece of the puzzle is a good standard minimum value. This becomes an issue on this particular property because the individual pieces are no longer the concern, the entire system is. Replacing the original windows with ultra, top-of-the-line, triple pane, low e, argon filled, UV shading, super windows is not going to block the heat escaping through the loosely dangling boards that clad the place. Now the entire wall matters.
This is good!
Now there are options on how to best approach this renovation project. You can improve objects throughout the system to reach code standards. In the example of the wall, exterior insulation, windows, cladding and vapour barriers all contribute to the energy efficiency of the system. Some are easier to address, some are more cost effective. The big change is that there are choices in how you address the system as a whole. Good contractors can approach these topics with creativity and cost savings in mind.
THE BEST NEWS!
As a part of the new rules there are now standard ways to install doors and windows. As a part of adopting the systemic approach to energy efficiency the ABC now refers to the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) for window and door installation. While the information is highly technical in nature, it provides much clearer information on how a job is done and how it is done properly. Which is good! If you are using good quality professionals to help select and install envelope elements they are now accountable for insuring that higher quality standards are met.
The bottom line is that there are new standards for how to install windows and doors. There are new standards for calculating energy efficiency. The numbers themselves are nearly meaningless, but the take home is that envelope elements should be installed to a high standard in new construction and that renovations will offer a wider diversity of choices to solve the same issues.